I achieved a new personal best time at the 2016 Brighton Speed Trials, thanks to the contributions of two important sponsors – Redline American Muscle and Toyo Tires.
As regular readers of this column will know, one of the problems of the Mustang is a drive-by-wire throttle which has a deadzone in both hardware and software, presumably to make it easier to control the power for less experienced drivers. This means you have to push the pedal significantly to obtain an increase in revs and it is even worse when the clutch is depressed, where the ECU enters economy mode cutting fuel to all cylinders thereby forcing the engine to go direct to idle and adding a further software deadzone so that the throttle pedal is almost completely disabled. Altogether this makes heel-and-toe to keep the revs up on downshifts pretty much impossible. This resulted in me having a major spin off the track at Woodcote corner at Goodwood in 2014, when braking from 140mph down the Lavant Straight – checkout the video at http://tinyurl.com/hzyhccq
Fortunately the race car building geniuses at Redline American Muscle came up with an ingenious solution. We purchased a Mustang throttle pedal from a car breakers in the USA to investigate the solution on a number of internet forums, where the five parallel contact wires which do not touch the potentiometer tracks until the pedal is pressed significantly (there is a about a half inch gap which needs an inch of pedal travel to close). However, there are two problems with this – it is only possible to bend the wires by about an eighth of an inch, meaning there is still a large gap and secondly the gold wires are made of fairy pubes so just touching them causes them to disintegrate!
Kev and Mike came up with a much better way of dealing with the problem, which gave an adjustable engine idle speed (not normally possible with the fly by wire setup without reprogramming the ECU) and a “hot” pedal, so just touching it makes the engine scream! We set my idle to 1100 revs, probably faster than most people would want for road use, but great to stop the revs dropping between gear changes on a race track. I took the mustang out for a run on Redline’s test track and it had become a beast! I was able to heel and toe, revving the engine on downshifts under heavy braking into roundabouts just like my MX5 grass track racer – it was like having a totally new car! Bizarrely, the higher idle speed makes the car much easier to drive sedately, you can pull away smoothly from a standstill without the normal lack of low end torque luch – its just like driving an automatic that will creep forward smoothly without touching the throttle. If you want your ‘stang transformed into the great car it should have been go and see Mike and Kev and ask them to work their magic!
After the crazy sliding around at Silverstone, I ordered a new set of tyres from Toyo. Rather than the R888 tyres that I had been using for the last three seasons, these were the new R888R tyres that meet new tougher EU regulations. Earlier in the season a (very rich) competitor had purchased a set of nearly all of the MSA list 1B tyres (semi slick road / race tyres) for side by side comparison at a track day. I am pleased to say that he decided the Toyo R888R was a clear winner giving more grip than anything else! I often see the question “what is the best performance tyre for my car?” on many petrolhead forums. I can recommend the Toyo R888 and more importantly the new R888R – although they are “race” tyres, they are road legal and work fine in the wet, being a softer compound they offer more grip than normal summer road tyres and when you warm them up on a track day they are amazing! Give my friend Alan Meaker of Toyo a call on 07879 813915, tell him Alex Peters of Black Sun Racing recommended Toyo to you and see what he can do for you!
Madeira Drive at Brighton has a very bumpy track with changing surface conditions and buildings that swing out across the finish line, making it a very different prospect from racing along a conventional drag strip. With my traditional gear change problems meaning I was off the power for half a second between first, second third and fourth which massively compromised my time. However, the throttle mods from Redline and the extra grip from the Toyo R88R tyres combined to give me a new personal best time of 13.15 seconds over the quarter mile.
I was very proud of the end result of 8th of 23 in class being beaten only by the most amazing cars that (a lot) of money can buy including A McLaren 650S and four wheel drive Porsche 911 and Nissan GTR. Of this huge class of supercars worth many times the value of the Mustang, I managed to beat a Corvette Z06, Jaguar XKR-S, Porsche 911, Ferrari 430 and F40! I hope they went home crying that they had wasted hundreds of thousands of pounds to be beaten by a Mustang!
My great supporter Pete Findlow who normally helps me out with the car at Crystal Palace, turned up at Brighton to be my pit crew for the day. He helped set the car up and provided a useful discussion on tactics after each run.
Unfortunately, due to the massively non-standard variety of class structures that the Brighton and Hove Motor Club use for all their events, the Speed Trials had been excluded from the Speed League Championship. However, in recognition of this, the Sevenoaks & District Motor Club presented trophies for the three fastest of their members entering this event and I am proud to say that I came second behind the slick-tyred Sylva Phoenix racing car of Jeff Wiltshire!
Receiving the second place Sevenoaks club member’s trophy